Genesis raises many questions. The first is very basic: should we understand Genesis as fact, or fiction? We must settle this question early on in our discussion, for our views about the nature of the book will determine how we interpret it.
If the story of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin is fiction, perhaps "theological fiction", as some would call it, it may be intended to give insight into what is basically wrong with us as individuals. It may show our frailty, our sin, even our attitude of rebellion against God. But if it is not historical, if there is no literal fall, then there was no previous state of innocence and no guilt for having fallen from it. In other words, we are not sinful because of our own willful rebellion against God.
We are simply sinful.
We need a helper, perhaps a savior, but we do not need to confess our sin and repudiate it. Similarly, if the flood is not history, but only a myth created to teach certain eternal truths, the story may teach that God does not like sin. But it loses the fearful truth that God intervenes in history against sin, to judge it, and so we may begin to question the reality of future, predicted punishment in the afterlife or at the end of time.
Is Genesis fact or fiction? Is it to be understood as a record of literal events? Or is it something like inspired poetry, in which "spiritual" but not "historical" truths are discernible?
There are many who opt for fiction, calling Genesis "myth" or "fable". Recently, even some we might otherwise class as evangelical, not just skeptics, have been willing to take a similar position.
However, the rest of Scripture seems intent on assuring us that Genesis is history.
This is the point with which Francis Shaeffer begins his short study of Genesis in Space and Time. His position is that the mentality of the whole Scripture is that "creation is as historically real as the history of the Jews and our own present moment in time. Both the Old and New Testaments deliberately root themselves back in the early chapters of Genesis, insisting that they are a record of historical events."
As a case in point, Shaeffer cites Psalm 136, which praises God for his enduring love. The psalm begins with a doxology but then passes on to the reasons why we should praise him.
The first of those reasons is his work of creation, as recorded in Psalm 136:5-9:
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights--
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
Without any break and no indication that he is now beginning to write a historical rather than in a poetical or somehow less literal vein, the poet then goes on to list a second reason why God should be praised: his work of delivering Israel from Egypt.
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:10-12)
What is involved here? Obviously a view of history and of God's
specific acts in history according to which there is natural continuity
between the acts of God in creation and the events of the present
day. This means that, if we wish to maintain a biblical perspective,
the Genesis account must be taken as history.
Jesus, too, assumed the historicity of the Genesis account.
Matthew 19:3-6 records:
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
Notice also Mark 13:19:
because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now--and never to be equaled again.
None of this will carry that much weight, we must understand, with those who consider the Genesis account to be mere versions of those clearly mythical accounts of creation that circulated in the Ancient Near East before and after the time that Genesis was written.
There are the Babylonian Epic of Creation and the Cosmologies of Egypt and Phoenicia. These have some similarities to the accounts in Genesis.
If Genesis is indeed merely one of like character, must we not think that Jesus was mistaken in his view of creation or at least (and some have suggested this) he merely adapted his teaching to the views of his day, though he himself knew better, being God.
The opinion of W.F. Albright is helpful at this point.
Albright was not an evangelical, though he became increasingly conservative in his opinions as his studies progressed (he was forced into it by the facts) -- yet he spoke openly about the lack of similarity between Genesis and the other ancient accounts.
His own view was that Israel was a "rarely endowed people" who selected "the most vital elements in their religious literatures," combined them into "a new and richer synthesis," purified them by "the monotheism of Moses, and spiritualized [them] by the inspired insight of the Prophets."
In other words, it was an almost purely human process in his view.
Yet, in spite of this basic orientation, Albright argued that it is difficult to see how this early "mythological structure can be connected in any direct way whatsoever with the biblical story."
Albright argued that the Babylonian Epic does have a certain superficial resemblance to the Genesis account. It was written on seven tablets, while the Genesis account represents creation as having taken place over a period of seven days.
At some points the language is similar.
But beyond that, hardly anything is the same. The Hebrew account is monotheistic. Its language is terse. The Babylonian account is polytheistic, verbose, and crassly mythological.
At the beginning of the Babylonian account there are two monsters represented as dragons: 1) Apsu, the freshwater subterranean ocean and his consort 2) Tiamat, the salt water ocean that surround the earth.
From these two springs a generation of deities, the last of which become so powerful that Apsu and Tiamat plot to destroy them.
The result is a titanic struggle in which Tiamat is slain, and her body is chopped in two. The upper half is formed into the heavens, while the lower half becomes the earth.
Men and women are then made from the blood of Qingu, Tiamat's chief minister.
The text says:
"Punishment they imposed on him,
His blood vessels they cut open,
with his blood they created mankind."
Albright maintains, and I would agree with him, that nearly anyone can see the vast gulf separating this account from the account of creation preserved in Genesis.
Don't some scholars still argue that the Genesis account is simply a myth?
Yes, some do. But remember what C.S. Lewis wrote:
A man who has spent his youth and manhood in the minute study of the NT texts and of other people's studies of them, whose literary experiences of those texts lacks any standard of comparison such as can only grow from a wide and deep and general experience of literature in general, is, I should think, very likely to miss the obvious things about them. If he tells me that something in a gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in determining them by the flavor; not how many years he has spent on that gospel. (Christianity Today, June 9, 1967, p. 895 "Faulting the Bible Critics").
Some may still argue that we are missing the point. For whether
the language of Genesis is mythical or not, these will still think
it inadequate for giving a truly factual or scientific account
Let us think this through. The account of creation might have been written in one of three ways:
1. In scientific language.
2. In historical prose.
3. In poetry.
What would it take for the account of creation to be written in scientific language?
I quote from Frederick A. Filby, professor of Chemistry and author of Creation Revealed.
The sciences which probe most deeply into the ultimate facts of matter and life are probably astro- and modern physics and biochemistry. But these sciences are written, not so much in language as in symbols. It takes many pages of symbols to discuss the nature of a single atom of hydrogen. It has been estimated that to give a complete account of the position of the group and bonds in a single virus of molecular weight 300 million would take a 200 page book. If the scientific description of a single hydrogen atom, or of a virus too small to be seen without a microscope, takes a book, what hope is there of ever giving a scientific account of the creation of man and the universe?
Yet Genesis 1...uses only 76 different root words. If Genesis 1 were written in absolute scientific language to give an account of creation, there is no man alive, nor ever has there been, who could understand it. If it were written in any kind of scientific language, only the favored few could understand it. It would have to be rewritten every generation to conform to the new views and terms of science. It could not be written in our mid-twentieth century scientific language, for no earlier generations could have grasped its meaning, and to our children it would be out of date. The scientific description of the 'how' of the universe is beyond the understanding of any human brain, but Genesis 1 was written for all readers, not for none....
What then would be the best method for the Creator to use for (1) making a beginning to his book and (2) establishing that the God of the Bible is also the God of creation -- in language simple enough for all men in all time?
"The answer is...Genesis 1...the most amazing composition in all the world's literature, using only 76 different word forms fundamental to all mankind, arranged in a wonderful poetical pattern, yet free from any highly colored figures of speech.
It provides the perfect opening to God's book and establishes all that men really need to know of the facts of creation. No man could have invented it: it is as great a marvel as a planet or a bird. It is God's handiwork, sufficient for Hebrew children or Greek thinkers, or Latin Christians; for medieval knights or modern scientists or little children; for cottage dwellers or cattle ranchers or deep sea fishermen; for Laplanders or Ethiopians, East or West, rich or poor, old or young, simple or learned...sufficient for all! Only God could write such a chapter...and he did!
The most fundamental of all issues is whether or not God has spoken to us in scripture. If you answer no, then you should go away and forget all this.
Yes, and then you can stay.
The Most Popular Views of Creation
IV. Summary of the Most Common Interpretations of the Creation Narrative:
1. Six Day Creationism
Takes the approach that the six days of Genesis 1 are to be understood as actual twenty-four hour days. Holds to a basically chronological approach to the creation narrative, and believes that the universe as a whole came into being about six thousand years ago. Believes that all the fossils were formed at the time of the Great Flood of Noah.
2. Gap Theory Creationism
Places a gap in the narrative either before Genesis 1:1 or between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2; believes the universe was created approximately twenty billion years ago, then suffered a cataclysmic destruction at the time of Satan's rebellion, necessitating he reconstruction of the Earth about six thousand years ago. The fossil records illustrate the life forms prior to the reconstruction recorded from Genesis 1:2 and following. In common with the Creationist perspective, it holds that the six days are to be understood as ordinary twenty-four hour days.
3. Progressive Creationism
Believes that the six days of Genesis should be understood as long periods of time, rather than twenty-four hour days. Believes that God brought the universe into existence about twenty billion years ago. Believes that God created the world directly and deliberately, that is, without leaving anything to chance, but that he did it over long periods of time that correspond roughly to geologic ages. Different items were created on each successive day, with long periods of waiting before the next stage of creation took place. Would suggest that creation is still going on. Does not necessarily view the creation narrative as a chronological description of events.
4. Theistic Evolutionary Creationism
Believes that the six days of Genesis should be understood as long periods of time, rather than twenty-four hour days. Believes that God brought the universe into existence about twenty billion years ago, and then made use of the evolutionary process to bring forth life over an extended period. Does not necessarily view the creation narrative as a chronological description of events.
Thematic Arrangement of the Six Days
1. Light=day/dark=night 4. Sun for day/moon, stars for night
2. water below/above 5. fish below/birds above
3. dry ground, plants 6. land animals, people
Notice that on days 1-3, empty places are made, while on days 4-6 the inhabitants to fill those empty places are made.
Topical Expansion in Hebrew Poetry and Narrative
Not uncommonly in the Old Testament, you'll find the structure
of the text is similar to what you'd find in a newspaper article,
where the first line or paragraph summarizes the rest of the story.
Look at the following examples to get a sense of how this works
in the Bible.
1. Genesis 1:1-3:25
1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
1:2-2:4a How God created the heavens and the earth.
2:4b-3:25 How God created man and woman.
2. Jonah 3:5-9
3:5 Summary of the response of the city to Jonah's preaching.
3:6-9 Specific details of what happened and how.
3. Proverbs 1:10-19
1:10 My son, if sinners entice you
do not go.
1:11-14 How sinners entice.
1:15-19 Do not go with them.
4. Ecclesiastes 2:1-26
2:1 I spoke in my heart, "Come now, I will test pleasure
and examine good."
Behold: all of it is also meaningless.
2:2-10 Testing with pleasure to discover what's good.
2:11-26 Everything is meaningless.
1. Arguments in favor of Six Day Creationism
There seems to be a problem with taking the days of Genesis to mean anything other than normal twenty-four hour days. The only time that it can be demonstrated that "day" in Hebrew means more than twenty-four hours is when it is placed in a genitival relationship with another noun, as in Psalm 90:4 and Genesis 2:4, i.e., "day of..."
2. All three other theories (Gap, Progressive, Theistic) introduce death and destruction into the world before the entrance of sin.
"If death was the punishment for sin, as the Bible seems
to indicate, and if this punishment was imposed upon the whole
world (including the animals) as the result of Adam's sin, then
there could not have been death in the world before Adam, and
the fossil record must be post-Adamic, as the Flood geologists
state. Morris puts it tersely:
'The day-age theory...accepts as real the existence of death before sin, in direct contradiction to the Biblical teaching that death is a divine judgment on man's dominion because of man's sin (Rom. 5:12). Thus it assumes that suffering and death comprise integral parts of God's work of creating and preparing the world for man, and this in effect pictures God as a sadistic ogre...not as the Biblical God of grace and love."
2. Arguments in favor of Gap Theory Creationism (and problems with other positions)
Would argue that six day creationists ignore reality; the universe is clearly older than six thousand years.
The usage of Tohu and Bohu
The usage of hayah, "to be" or "to become".
3. Arguments in favor of Theistic Evolutionary Creationism or Progressive Creationism (and problems with other positions)
The structure of Genesis 1-2 is not chronological:
I. Summary statement, Genesis 1:1-2
A. General Details of Creation, 1:2-2:3
a. The Six Days
1. light/darkness 4. sun/moon and stars
2. water above/below 5. birds/fish
3. dry land, vegetation 6. animals and people
b. God Rests (seventh day)
B. Details of Human Creation (return to the sixth day)
The structure of the six days narrative follows the pattern of the creation of empty spaces (light and dark, water and atmosphere, land) which are then filled by specific objects. Notice, too, that the first two days (and the parallel fourth and fifth day) are split into two segments, while the third day and parallel sixth day are not so split, with plants rising from the soil on the third day and animals rising from the soil to inhabit the land and consume the vegetation on the sixth day.
The word "day" is defined in the context of the creation narrative in 1:5 where it is equated with the word "light", not a twenty-four hour period.
The phrase, "And there was evening, and there was morning -- the...day" occurs only in the first chapter of Genesis. It's exact meaning therefore is not absolutely clear. Certainly creationists are unwarranted in pressing the phrase as "proof" of their contention that these are twenty-four hour days. The phrase itself proves nothing.
There are other time periods in the Bible that are not literal in their meaning -- for instance the seventy weeks of Daniel chapter nine, which refer to a time period of 483 YEARS. As if this were not enough, according to the most popular evangelical teaching, the last week is separated from the preceding sixty-nine weeks by an indefinite time that at present has stretched to almost 2000 years, though there is nothing in the text of Daniel 9 to suggest this possibility (hardly resulting in the most obvious or "literal" interpretation of these seventy "weeks").
Adam can be accepted as literally real even within an evolutionary framework.
As Abraham was later to be chosen by God from a pagan, polytheistic society in order to become the progenitor of his chosen people, so God can be seen as selecting Adam from a pre-existing group of hominids and then giving them the choice of serving God or not. Perhaps Adam was a radical mutation from his forbearers, hence the story in Genesis 2 describing his difficulty in finding a suitable mate, necessitating divine intervention to fashion a female clone (notice she was constructed from his genetic material).
The search for a mate and the naming of the animals is also evidence that the sixth day at least, was almost certainly not a twenty-four hour period, since it would be difficult if not impossible, for a single man, however gifted, to identify and name all the species on the planet in so limited an amount of time. Consider that there are at least one million species of animals (using the number Morris gives in his book The Genesis Flood). Therefore, allowing no time for sleep, Adam would have had to name eleven and a half animals every second (with 86,400 seconds in 24 hours). And this doesn't leave him time to realize there is no mate fit for him, or for God to put him to sleep and form Eve.
Jesus said he would return "quickly" or "soon" (see Rev. 22:12, 20); yet if the world is really only 6000 years old, to have waited for nearly 2000 years hardly seems "soon". However, if the world is actually 4.6 billion years old (and the universe 15-20 billion), then 2000 years is hardly any time at all (cf. the analogy made between a day and the history of the universe, where all of recorded human history takes up only the last few seconds).
The genealogies of Genesis are not likely to be complete and therefore do not function as a chronology. The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11:10-26 are both lists of ten names, and both end with the final individual have three significant sons. The artificial and selective nature of these genealogies thereby becomes apparent.
Matthew divides the genealogy of Jesus into three sections, each with fourteen names. His reason for doing this is that the Hebrew name David is written with three letters whose numerical value is fourteen. To get the structure he desires, Matthew left out several names, which can be demonstrated by comparing his genealogy with those given in the Old Testament (for instance Matthew 1:8 and 1 Chronicles 3:10-12). Therefore, it seems reasonable to suspect that the author of Genesis does a similar thing with his genealogies in order to get his ten plus three pattern.
1 Chronicles 16:14-17 (which parallels Psalm 105:7-10; also cf. Deuteronomy 7:9) states the following:
He is Yahweh our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.He remembers his covenant forever,
the word he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac.
He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant:...
These passages seem to suggest that far more than the twenty generations listed in Genesis 5 and 11 existed between the time of Adam and the time of Abraham. Though it is possible to read "thousand generations" in parallel with "forever" in vs. 15, thereby making "thousand generations" figurative hyperbole, one could just as easily argue that "thousand generations" defines "forever," moving from general to specific (as in the numerical Proverbs [Proverbs 30:15-16, 30:18-19, 30:24-28, 30:29-31). However, even if "thousand generations" is hyperbolic it still suggests that far more than a mere twenty generations are in view.
Romans 5:12 is sometimes quoted to show that death could not have existed on Earth until Adam's fall. However, it should be pointed out that the passage in Romans is speaking only about human death and that it would be difficult to press it to include the death of any other life forms. Moreover, before the fall it is clear (from Genesis 1:29-30) that at least plants had to die in order to serve as food for people and animals. This is impossible to reconcile if the passage in Romans is pressed to include any more than human beings.
Creationists also contend that to allow death, suffering and the struggle for survival before Adam's sin is to make God into an ogre, since God repeatedly describes his creation as "very good" in Genesis 1.
However, in Psalm 136:17-20, where the death of the first born
in Egypt and the deaths of Sihon and Og are described, the Psalmist
comments that God's "love endures forever." Psalm 116:15
states that "Blessed in the sight of God is the death of
his saints." In both these passages we are discussing the
deaths of human beings, not lower life forms!
Genesis 3:22-23 records that Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden in order to prevent them from eating the fruit of the Tree of Life and thereby living forever.
Because death was absolutely necessary if human redemption was
ever to occur. If human beings were not to wind up in the hopeless
condition of the demons and Satan, they had to be able to die.
Only by the Son of God taking upon himself the form of a human
being and dying could the race be saved. If Jesus had not been
able to die, then the human race would have remained in its sin
and been forever irredeemable. (The reason Satan and the demons
cannot repent and be saved is simply because Jesus cannot die
for their sins; Satan and the demons are immortal: they cannot
Death can also be seen as a good thing from the standpoint that it limits the damage that the wicked can do. Sooner or later, even a monster like Hitler has to die -- thereby putting an end to his evil.
It can be demonstrated that death is necessary in order for life to exist at all (animals eat plants, while other organisms consume the dead plants and dead animals, returning nutrients to the soil, making it fertile for the growth of new plants). A question should also be asked: if animals didn't die before Adam's fall, then why do they die after it? Did they sin, too? Why should Adam's sin have an effect on them.
V. The Image of God
What does it mean, in Genesis 1:26-27 when it says that human beings (men and women both) have been created in God's image?
1. Standard Answer
A. Men and women possess attributes of personality:
a) communion with God (John 4:24)
Where does the Bible tell us that this is what is meant by the "image of God"? Nowhere.
What does the Bible tell us about the nature of "image"? Look at Genesis 5:1-3.
Apparently, there is no great mystery, though a remarkable number of Christians are uncomfortable with the implications. The plain meaning is that human beings look like God.
God has shown himself occasionally: Genesis 18, Exodus 24; cf. John 1:18.
THE FALL OF THE HUMAN RACE
The third chapter of Genesis, which portrays the temptation and the fall of man, has him living blissfully and innocently in a delightful environment. This fall is of immense theological importance. It furnishes the basis and supplies the need for divine redemptive activity on behalf of the human race.
1. Location of the Garden of Eden:
Biblical notices locate the garden of Eden, where the temptation and fall occurred, somewhere in the Tigris-Euphrates country, apparently. See Genesis 2:10-14.
It is futile to try to determine the exact site now. The effects
of the flood, shifting river beds, and the changing configuration
of the country in the course of millenniums had lead many to believe
that such a task is impossible.
However, we must remember that the author of this passage is Moses, and he is writing for a specific audience; therefore he uses terms and place names that that audience will understand. For instance, although the patriarchs were unaware of the name "Yahweh" according to Exodus 3 and 6, because it had not been revealed until God told it to Moses, we find the name used throughout the book of Genesis on the lips of the patriarchs. Why? Because it was important for the Israelites that they should identify the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as being identical to the God Yahweh who was now leading them from bondage to the promised land.
Likewise, the terms for these rivers and the locations of them perhaps apply to then existing rivers, not the names actually used in antiquity.
Tigris and Euphrates are easily identified. What about the Pishon and....?
There are possibilities:
2. The Myth of Adapa:
There is an ancient legend, which has been commonly interpreted as the Babylonian parallel to the fall of man in Genesis 3. It was discovered on four cuneiform fragments, three from King Ashurbanipal's library in Nineveh (seventh century BC) and the fourth from the archives of the Egyptian kings Amenhotep III and IV at Amarna (first half of the fourteenth century BC). It is a story, like the Epic of Gilgamesh (which we will get to when we study the Flood), of a man's failure to seize the opportunity of gaining eternal life.
Adapa was a man to whom the god Ea had given wisdom, but not eternal life. As the administrator of Ea's temple at Eridu, he was out on the Persian gulf fishing when the south wind rose suddenly and upset his boat, plunging him into the sea. Enraged, he broke "the wing of the south wind", pictured apparently as some sort of bird. Thus crippled, the south wind was unable to blow cooling breezes over the land.
For this violent deed Adapa is called to answer before Anu, the Great God of Heaven. Before ascending to the ethereal regions, Ea, his father, instructs Adapa to dress in mourning as a token of reverence to the two gatekeepers who have recently left the land of the living and not to eat the food of death or drink the water of death which will be offered him. His mourning for the gatekeepers secures their goodwill. They intercede for him so successfully that, instead of punishing him, Anu decides to bless him:
"...The food of life
Bring him that he may eat."
The food of life
They brought him,
but he did not eat.
The water of life
They brought him,
but he did not drink.
A garment they brought him,
And he clothed himself.
Oil they brought him,
And he anointed himself
Anu looked at him and laughed at him.
"Come here, Adapa!
Why have you not eaten or drunk?
Now you will not live!
Ea, my lord, said:
"Do not eat,
do not drink!"
"Take him and bring him back to his earth" [said Anu].
Having been sent back to earth to die like all other people, Adapa forfeited the chance at gaining eternal life. It is clear from Fragment IV of the text, that he is a representative of the human race. His refusal to partake of the bread and water of life not only lost HIM eternal life, but also involved the whole race in illness and disease, and evidently also lost immortality for the human race as well.
3. The Myth of Adapa and Genesis 3
Whatever correspondences there are between the myth of Adapa and the third chapter of Genesis, the Babylonian legend obviously does not offer a clear parallel to the biblical account of the fall of the human race, and scholars are unwarranted in making such an application (which doesn't prevent a few from trying).
There is not the slightest reason to look for the fall in the literature of the Babylonians, as the idea of a fall is contrary to their whole system of polytheistic speculation. In Genesis man is created in the image of a holy God. But the Babylonians, like the Greeks and Romans after them, created their gods, good and bad, in the image of men. Such gods who schemed, hated, fought and killed one another could not be expected to create that which was morally perfect. Neither could a person who was formed out of the blood of such deities possess anything but an evil nature. No fall was possible, because people were created evil, and had no state of innocence from which to fall. No Babylonian god ever looked at what he had made and called it "very good".
However, it cannot be denied that some elements in the legend of Adapa are striking by way of similarity or contrast. The "food of life", corresponds to the "fruit" of "the tree of life" (Gen. 3:3, 22). The two accounts accordingly agree in the thought that eternal life could be obtained by eating a certain kind of food or fruit. However, Adam forfeited immortality for himself because of sin, because he wished to be "like God" (Gen 3:5). For this reason he was expelled from the garden lest he should eat of the "tree of life...and live forever" (Gen. 3:22). Had Adam not been prevented from eating, and had he become immortal, he would have sabotaged any possibility for redemption, because for redemption to occur the Son of God would have to become a man and die. If men could not die, then Jesus could not die, and therefore sin could not be atoned for. People would have been just like the demons, then.
Adapa was already endowed with wisdom by the gods and failed to become immortal, not on account of disobedience or presumption like Adam, but because of his obedience to his creator, EA, who deceived him.
Like the Biblical narrative of the fall of our race, the Adapa story deals with the perplexing question of why people must suffer and die. In contrast, however, the answer is not that people fell from their moral integrity and that sin into which they fell involved death, but that this man lost his chance to obtain eternal life as a result of being deceived by one of the gods. The origin of human sin is not at all in view in the Adapa story, while this is basic to the Genesis account.
The Beginning of Civilization
The Bible connects the beginning of human civilization with Cain and Able, the two sons of Adam. There are, as yet, no ancient texts from Mesopotamia which bear any resemblance to the story of Cain and Abel.
1. The beginnings of agricultural life
People, as they very early had to become a food producer (after the fall they were driven from the garden and had to work hard for their food, unlike the ideal conditions in the garden of Eden), began to control nature by simple farming and animal raising. Both of these activities are closely related, and begin at approximately the same time, according to Genesis 4:2, where we find the first two offspring of the first two human beings, involved in these two activities: Abel kept sheep and Cain was a dirt farmer.
2. The beginnings of urban life
The line of Cain is connected with the establishment of the earliest city and with the development of the arts and crafts of urban life (Gen. 4:16-24). Jabal is connected with the development of pastoral and bedouin life (Gen. 4:20). His brother, Jubal, is associated with the art of music and the invention of the first musical instruments -- the harp and the pipe (Gen. 4:21). Tubal-Cain is mentioned in connection with the science of metallurgy and craftsmanship in bronze and iron (Gen. 4:22).
One thing to keep in mind is that we do not have the remains of any preflood civilizations. All the sites excavated simply tell us what things were like after the flood. For instance, the earliest village settlements yet discovered are in northern Mesopotamia at Tell Hassuna, south of modern Mosul and at Nineveh and at Tepe Gawra, "The Great Mound" northwest of Nineveh. These sites belong to the Neolithic period, and are dated to about 5000 BC or earlier, and show stone tools and weapons, pottery and rude buildings.
Around 4500 BC copper came into use alongside of stone and by
3000 BC had displaced it as the dominant material for making tools
and weapons. Iron came into general use not until 1200 BC. But
in Gen. 4:22 we are confronted with bronze (a mixture of copper
and tin) and iron in use simultaneously, long before 1200 BC.
What the sites so far discovered, therefore, show, is the re-invention and re-development of a lost civilization and technology.
Something to keep in mind: we do not know what things were like before the flood in any detail. We know that there were at least (if we ignore the likely gaps in the genealogies) 1600 years between the creation and the time of the flood. We know that the people before the flood were living upwards of nine hundred years or more. When you consider the technological advancement in just the last two hundred years, advancement made possible by people who live upwards of seventy years, we must not be quick to assume that life before the flood was a primitive, stone age situation. Their world could have been just as advanced -- perhaps even more advanced -- than our own. We do not know. But the word which was before the flood, was completely destroyed (2 Peter 3:6).
If you think it strange that it has taken so long to rediscover technology, keep in mind the difficulty you would have if the whole world was destroyed and you alone were left to rebuild it from scratch. A nuclear holocaust is nothing compared to what the flood did to this planet.
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